It has long been observed that rare earth elements (REEs) regulate multiple facets of plant growth and development. However, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unclear. Here, using electron microscopic autoradiography, we show the life cycle of a light REE (lanthanum) and a heavy REE (terbium) in horseradish leaf cells. Our data indicate that REEs were first anchored on the plasma membrane in the form of nanoscale particles, and then entered the cells by endocytosis. Consistently, REEs activated endocytosis in plant cells, which may be the cellular basis of REE actions in plants. Moreover, we discovered that a portion of REEs was successively released into the cytoplasm, self-assembled to form nanoscale clusters, and finally deposited in horseradish leaf cells. Taken together, our data reveal the life cycle of REEs and their cellular behaviors in plant cells, which shed light on the cellular mechanisms of REE actions in living organisms.
Via Pierre-Marc Delaux